Sins by F. Sionil Jose

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Don Carlos lies on his deathbed, determined to tell all. Don Carlos lies, as they say, through his teeth.

in this slim, powerful novel, F. Sionil Jose, one of the leading literary voices of Asia and the Pacific, tells all. Don Carlos Cobello, a worldly man, has been a diplomat, entrepreneur, gourmand, and sinner. Like other memoirists, he reveals more than he intends. Born to wealth, he was determined to increase it. Born to corruption, he sees no reason to give up too much of a good thing. Born of woman, he sets about seducing -- or simply taking -- every woman he sees, starting with his sister.

He is a prince of accommodation; his family has drawn close to power no matter who dominated their islands, be it the Spanish, the Japanese, or the Americans. (A woman shared with a Japanese colonel in a family-owned brothel returns their favors by passing on to one the disease of the other.)

The colorful cast includes a "hero of the Revolution" who purchased land with revolutionary funds, a close poker-playing friend of General Douglas MacArthur, and the illegitimate son of a maid who later becomes a lawyer destined for greatness.

Cobello's wealth, incest, and casual infidelities are no hindrance to an upwardly mobile career. In the "incredible reality that is the Philippines," says Jose, "the higher one goes, the whiter one becomes." For, as Cobello puts it, "here, sin is a social definition, not a moral one."

Sins will add to the stature of F. Sionil Jose and to his growing reputation in the United States.

About F. Sionil Jose

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As the owner of the prominent Solidaridad Bookstore, F. Sionil Jose's literary life extends beyond his prolific output of writings to an avid promotion of literature and books. He is the founder of the Philippine Center of International PEN and former editor-publisher of the influential literary magazine Solidarity. He has written, "I left my village in the Central Luzon province of Pangasinan when I was thirteen. My Ilokano forefathers, driven away from their homes in the late nineteenth century by land hunger and Spanish oppression, settled in this village, which they called Cabugawan after the town of Cabugaw in Ilokos Sur, where they came from. It is in this village where I grew up, knew the drudgery of village life, and at the same time learned those solid virtues of industry and thrift which the Ilokansos are noted for." Jose is best known for his historical epic of five novels that follow Rosales, a village in Luzon, through a century of Philippine life. In these and other novels, his characters underscore the seemingly endless search for Filipino identity, moral order, and social justice. In exploring the impact of urbanization, he often highlights individual integrity in the face of corruption and evil. In 1979 Jose won the Palanca Award and in 1980 the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Communication Arts.
Published April 3, 2013 by Random House. 207 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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In the second fiction to appear here by noted Filipino writer JosÇ (Three Filipino Women, 1992), the sordid deathbed confession of a local tycoon is as much a portrait of a corrupt and sinful society as a personal mea culpa.

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After making it through the tedious opener of the USA Network drama "Sins of the City" (one of two primetime hours launching USA's second night of originals) , a viewer finds himself groping for moral platitudes to sum up this off-kilter "Miami Vice" wannabe.

Jul 14 1998 | Read Full Review of Sins

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